How to re-create classic summer trousers

I made a conscious commitment to myself last year to acquire less clothes and accessories this year, and focus instead upon building a classic foundation to my wardrobe. I have long admired the style of the 1920, 1930s – the so-called “golden era” of men’s fashion – so I naturally turn to this period for inspiration, using the many photographs and images available online. In particular I have collected a significant number of drawings made by Laurence Fellows – one section of my Pinterest account is principally dedicated to this collection. Looking through this growing array of beautiful images one of the more consistent and prevalent styles of the era is the loose fit, doubled front pleats, with turn ups (cuffs in America) cream (think vintage cricket flannels) or white trousers. The acquisition of these has been the foundation item I have focused on this summer.

Finding such trousers today, especially in the awful world of the “skinny’ or ‘slim’ fit has however proved very challenging. There is no shortage of cotton chino or linen versions in the cream or white tone (but without the turn-ups), but the drape and hang of cotton and linen material lacks the essential elegance I was looking to replicate.

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The great Cary Grant

Eventually I decided my only option would be to commission a pair and have them made. Before you, dear reader, think I have suddenly moved out of the modest financial comfort zone of this blog and into the rarefied world of bespoke clothing, do not worry. I sourced them from a tailor I have used several times, one who is generally accessible to many of you – Raja Fashions from Hong Kong.

This traveling tailoring service became extremely helpful. You make an appointment on-line through their website – the tailor visits most major centres of many countries every few months (ideal often for a second fitting) and takes up residence in a hotel suite. An appointment lasts for up to one hour.

I explained to the tailor I was looking for a classic 1920/30s style, reminiscent of early cricket/ tennis trousers, and that I needed them in a light weight fabric for the summer months. I even showed him some Laurence Fellows images. He searched through his many fabric books and swabs and eventually found a very light weight wool fabric in white and a cream tone. So light was the fabric it was almost transparent but the tailor explained a full lining would be required, and it would also help with the drape. The lining would not create any difficulties for the breathability of the wool fabric. Both colours – the white and the cream – looked exactly the classic and vintage style I was seeking, so much so I could not make up my mind! The price per pair was also very reasonable and, after he offered a special reduced price if I purchased two pairs, I eventually decided to opt for a pair of each! The tailor then also had a book of designs, which included the exact style I needed.

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The style option at Raja Fashions

Measurements were taken and, three weeks later, my two pairs of trousers arrived by FedEx. They are magnificent – if that is not too strong enough word to describe the humble trouser! These classic fit trousers will last many years. I have been occasionally accused of living in the past – but sometimes the past has the perfect answer, in this case a relaxed fit, easy to wear throughout the Summer months, breathable, roomy (allowing air to circulate), so why try reinvent the wheel?

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Wearing the cream trousers at Newmarket Races

My friends at Raja Fashions have enabled a contemporary solution to be found for a vintage re-birth of a great men’s trouser!

5 thoughts on “How to re-create classic summer trousers

  1. Beautiful trousers. I think they’d be even nicer with a slightly higher, 1930s rise – though not sure Raja offers that option. I’d like to recommend a place you can get period correct 1930s chinos and flannels made with beautiful material – Simon James Cathcart. He’s also got summer polos and a number of interesting projects coming up – 1930s DB suits, workwear, long sleeve polos etc. I think he’s right up your alley.

    http://sjcforum.com

    http://www.simonjamescathcart.com

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    1. Thanks – I would agree about the rise, but Raja did not offer that. I have just checked out the link you suggested – I am impressed, and will follow them with interest. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  2. For anybody interested in a cheaper alternative that is at the same time vintage authentic take a look at what London based Simon James Cathcart offers. At present he has cream flannels in 16 oz. (yes, that’s very heavy for today’s standards, but gives an awesome drape and was a common weight back in the day) and cream chinos in a 8 oz. cotton poplin that was rewoven from British 1920s summer trousers. Both trousers are in the same 1930s cut with two pleats and a high rise. The trousers come unhemmed so everybody can choose if they want 2″ turn ups or none. http://www.simonjamescathcart.com

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